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Old 11-27-2011, 06:13 AM   #11
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: Subtle Spells for Iron-Age Warriors

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Originally Posted by Yorunkun View Post
Thanks Peter - good stuff. Need to chew on this for a bit, but I like the idea of going with heavily limited powers and using CPs to buy off the limitations.
Keep in mind, most of those Limitations are there to ensure the powers are weak and subtle, so there are three types of Limiations:

A. Ones that are hardwired into the metaphysical system of the world. Nobody can ever buy these off.

B. Ones that are required for normal mortals, but which can be bought off if you have the appropriate Unusual Background, such as Grandson of Freya (or just having Royal Blood, Aragorn-style, although in a European setting royal blood tends to mean divine ancestry), or having undergone extreme rituals[1].

C. Ones that simply represent inexperience, or a not-yet-perfect spiritual link to the relevant god or faerie other supernatural being. These can be bought off, during character creation or during play.

Many Limitations will be a bit of each of the above, for instance Preparation Required may consist of -20% that's mandatory, -10% that requires an Unusual Background (each power would have one or in rare cases two such UBs, often birthrights, sometimes extreme rituals with lasting consequences as in Disadvantages), and -15% that just represents that you just quite haven't got the hang of things yet and that part can be bought off -5% at a time (GURPS' coarsegrainedness permitting, or if you as GM is willing to interpolate intermediate Limitation values).

Also do offer up Power Talents for as many powers as possible, but be prepared for those of your players with less magical characters not wanting to buy Power Talent.



[1] Examples of the later are in the Pendragon RPG supplement on the Saxons, various forms of self-mutilations similar to what he god Wotan went through: Sacrificing an eye or a limb, or genitals, or hanging for about a week pierced by a spear. For Christians it could instead be feats of ascetism so extreme that they cause permanent health damage (the character acquires Unfit, and becomes more vulnerable to diseases or loses a couple of points of HT). I'm not sure what would make the most sense for Kelts or for Romans (i.e. severely Romanized Kelts), or even if such rituals do fit into their culture. I know druids could fast and so forth, but never taken to extremes, except during actual hunger strikes against their enemies. Anyway, I think such UBs are mainly birthrights, not "acquirables".

I have actually invented one such extreme ritual for the Kelts of my Ärth historical fantasy setting, based on the Cailleach faerie creaturs as described in the Pendragon RPG supplement "Pagan Shores" in Ireland. In Ärth's magic system, it's not normally possible to cast Body Magic spells on others, which kinda sucks because that Realm (College) contains so many nice buffs. One way to get around that is for a woman to undergo an extreme facial scrafication ritual, turning her into a Cailleach (or War-Dame as I call them). War-Dames also undego a lot of combat training but it's not known whether this is necessary. They wear veils covering their faces (in GURPS terms the scars give them below-average Apperance; in Sagatafl they get a negative Reaction Roll modifier that counter-acts the effects of Appearance, and they get a Distinctive Feature which some degree of concealability), and carry spears with the metal of the spearhead and the wood of the shaft indicating their rank.

In order to be able to benefit from the Body Magic spells of any War-Dame, a man must undergo full vaginal intercourse with a War-Dame, face to face, under reasonable lightning conditions (in GURPS terms this would require a Will roll, at a penalty, although modified beneficially the more Lecherous the man is). All sorts of variations on this has been tried (including putting a sack over the War-Dame's head, or having a female warrior have sex with her, and so forth), but it must be as described to work. Ones a man has undergone the ritual, he can benefit from Body Magic spells cast by any War-Dame. Apart from the ritual the War-Dames get very little male attention, so most who see to become War-Dames are bisexual or nearly lesbian, and tend to stick to each other, in bed and socially (female sexuality is not really recognized in the setting; their girl-girl activities are seen as acts of "can't get male attention" desperation, not as originating from an innate, inborn desire). War-Dames tend to give out their buffs to heroes and warriors who protect the community. Ones wanting sexual favours in return are rare, and can become outcasts.

Other possibilities, more fitting for Saxon charactes, are various Secrets or Reputations. Seid magic was seen as unmanly (at least in the Viking Age; since it's probably a Lappish practice that were picked up by the Norse, 5th century Germanics knowing about it might be anachronistic, but a little mild anachronism does no harm), so any male practicing it has a Secret, that will explode into a negative Reputation and perhaps some Social Stigma, if uncovered.

A Romanized Kelt practicing ancient druidic rites may also have a Secret, since the Kelts would be largely Christian in the 5th century. Any other Christian would also have a Secret, but less extreme since the Romans particularly looked down on the druidic activities. Most likely a Roman engaged in such things would try hard to maintain the pretense either that he's using proper Roman magics, or else that it's a secular thing that has nothing to do with anything Keltic.
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Old 11-27-2011, 07:42 AM   #12
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Default Re: Subtle Spells for Iron-Age Warriors

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Originally Posted by Peter Knutsen View Post
For healing, you'll want to get away from the Insta-Heal of D&D-Land, and instead use something that has no visible effect. The simple solution is to speed up natural healing, e.g. by a factor. A low level spell doubles natural healing speed, a medium level spell triples it, and so forth. For GURPS (or indeed most other system) you'd probably want such spells to only work on wounds or HP loss that happened before the spell was cast. Otherwise it's like Bestow Regeneration which is quite powerful.

By far the "best" might be if it's not a spell-"shaped" effect at all, but rather just looks like very skilled medical care, where the healer spends hours or days or even weeks acting as a physician, but via the magic he achieves supernatural results, such as quadrupled recovery rate from wounds (and cripplings!).
This is pretty much exactly what the ritual Succor does in Path/Book magic.
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Old 11-27-2011, 11:37 AM   #13
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Default Re: Subtle Spells for Iron-Age Warriors

Despite the tick that has developed in my cheek at the use of "celtic"--it always does that, so no worries--you can always draw some inspiration from Shadowrun with regards to "physical adepts" (or whatever they're called now).

When dealing with IA warriors there are a number of ways that you can do this and it really depends on which way you want to go. The easiest way would be to go straight to Magic and look up potions/elixirs and alchemical charms (read: fetishes). You could also do it straight from Powers with Gadget limitations.

Of course, those are for warrior characters. For magic-oriented characters then the previous excellent advise is there. :D
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Old 12-18-2011, 03:12 AM   #14
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: Subtle Spells for Iron-Age Warriors

I started another thread on the Gadget Limiation on Power Talents thing, and it turns out that it is explicitly RAW-legal to apply Gadget to Power Talent. Nice when the RAW agrees with me, for once!

So, the entire framework I've suggested is kosher. The trick is to fill in all the details, build the various Limited Advantages, and offer upgrade paths for at least some of them (gradual reduction of Limitations).
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Old 12-18-2011, 06:48 AM   #15
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Default Re: Subtle Spells for Iron-Age Warriors

You'll probably want to look at belief about magic in the period before deciding anything. Are the Saxon's in you campaign pagan, Christian or a combination of both?

For Pagans you can fill in the gaps in knowledge by looking at Viking beliefs, which from what we know were very similar. http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/seidhr.shtml has some information about them if that helps.
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Old 01-25-2013, 08:30 AM   #16
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: Subtle Spells for Iron-Age Warriors

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Originally Posted by Yorunkun View Post
Thanks Peter - good stuff. Need to chew on this for a bit, but I like the idea of going with heavily limited powers and using CPs to buy off the limitations.
Did you ever actually use any of my ideas? Or Polydamas' ? Or both combined? If so, I'd be interested in hearing about it.
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Old 02-07-2016, 03:08 AM   #17
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: Subtle Spells for Iron-Age Warriors

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Did you ever actually use any of my ideas? Or Polydamas' ? Or both combined? If so, I'd be interested in hearing about it.
Now, 3 years later, I'm still interested to hear if Yorunkun has used some of those ideas. Or if anyone else has.
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